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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 3542 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

I am aware of the real sensitivities about tree removal and of the concurrent, or other, sensitivities in relation to the need for us to ensure that residences and residents are safe. We have acknowledged the need to undertake some significant hazard and fuel reduction activities around the town in a range of areas.

Perhaps the communication has been too broad brush or general. I am determined that we will consult more closely and more directly on those more local areas of reduction, particularly where it involves the removal of significant stands of trees, such as the blue gums at Lyons, the blue gums and radiata pines on O'Connor Ridge and the significant stands of urban radiata that appear throughout Canberra.

There are significant stands of radiata in Kaleen, in Giralang and on O'Connor Ridge and there are blue gums on O'Connor Ridge. There are five blue gum plantations around Canberra, adjacent to suburbs, all of which are being looked at closely for future fire hazard and the potential hazard they represent to residents. I take the point that you make, and it has been well made, and we will ensure that residents are aware of hazard reduction programs, particularly as they impact directly on suburban amenity.

Having said all that, the government, and I think most residents, accept that we must undertake the audit that we are currently undertaking on hazard reduction and the potential hazard that some stands of trees represent to suburbia and the community. We won't resile from that; we cannot afford to resile from that. We must continue to make the community safe.

I have discussed-in that context and in the context of "This is the bush capital, and this is an environment that embraces a bush vista and a bush setting"-the need to ensure that for every tree that is removed there is a concrete plan to replace that tree with a structured form of replanting. I am prepared, Ms Tucker, to ensure that at the end of the hazard reduction and tree removal that will be undertaken in this round of fuel reduction there will be twice as many trees replanted as we remove. I have had communications with both the Department of Urban Services and Environment ACT and have indicated to them my clear desire that, at the end of the day, for every tree removed two trees will be planted somewhere within the suburban environment.

MS TUCKER: I have a supplementary question. Advice given to residents from rangers-

MR SPEAKER: No preamble, Ms Tucker.

MS TUCKER: Okay. Given the information that instructions have come from your office that all trees have to go, can you tell this place whether you are prepared to reduce some of the impact, particularly at Lyons, of clearing the blue gums by, firstly, looking at whether the trees regrowing under the power lines can be just lopped and not totally felled-since they create a screen between the houses and the freeway-and, secondly, by leaving a few of the blue gums? Are you prepared to look at the potential for a little bit more flexibility there for the Lyons people?

MR STANHOPE: I will have to have discussions with my office, Ms Tucker. As you are aware, I only returned to duty yesterday. I would be concerned if my office had

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